Richard Woodgate

Wildlife and Countryside Artist

How long does a painting take?
This is a question that I am often asked and the' tongue in cheek' answer I often give is: "two hours to paint a watercolour and twenty years to learn how to paint a watercolour!" As a rule of thumb though the watercolours are often quicker to execute. I only do a minimum of drawing for any particular picture and the painting itself will take anything from an hour to half a day depending upon the complexity of the piece. Acrylic paintings tend to take much longer. Some parts of the picture can be blocked in fairly quickly, whilst the detail work can take much longer. Some paintings will take me a couple of days to finish whereas bigger or more complicated paintings may take a week or more to complete. With acrylics of course you can change your mind, overpaint and move things around.
Do you paint from Photographs?
I find photographs an invaluable aid to my work. I find it possible to record a scene and detailed parts of it quickly with a digital camera. I am then able to select parts of the scene which I then draw as thumbnail sketches, before beginning a painting. What I never do is to copy a photograph in all its detail. I feel that the spontaneity can easily be lost if the photo is slavishly copied. It is far better to use the photo as an aid to the picture. I often change many things within the picture format. Often the skies in photos are just not good enough. At other times I may change the scene to make a more balanced composition, leave extraneous detail out, or even include things like people or puddles to enhance the painting.

One area of painting that I never use photographs for is botanical paintings. I find that no matter how good the photo is, you just cannot get the detail required to make a convincing picture. By having the flowers and leaves in front of me, it is possible to look and see the subject more clearly. I find that I really get to know the subject and that the end result is far more accurate and lifelike.
Do you prefer to paint in watercolour or acrylic?
I find both watercolours and acrylics have their own particular merits. I love painting watercolours in the English Tradition, allowing the colours to run and merge on the paper. Yes this can often be a rather frightening experience, but often the end results can be most satisfying. Using the white of the paper is also an important quality in my watercolours. The white textured surface can often add sparkle to a painting and I particularly enjoy painting into the light so that the paper seems to shine and give the illusion of intense sunlight.

Acrylics are also a good medium for creating special effects. I like to use them to give detail to particular paintings. Because they dry very quickly, it is often possible to build up glazes of pigment, giving a lifelike quality to the piece. Detailed treatments such as the feathered patterns on birds, rusty hinges on gates or the shine of wet beach pebbles are all wonderful things to paint in acrylics. Both painting mediums have there own characteristics. I am sure I shall continue exploring them both, learning new things all the time.
Why are your prices less than most art galleries?
My prices are often less than those found in most art galleries for a number of reasons. Firstly because I have not got the expensive overheads of high street shops, I am able to keep my prices somewhat lower. I always frame my own work, which again keeps my prices down. Not only do I do this for cost reasons, but I also feel that it is important to enhance the painting with the framing and not to overpower it as can be seen in many galleries. Finally, I like to keep my paintings affordable so that purchasers can enjoy my paintings without having to pay 'silly money' and it enables me to have a regular turnover of work, or else my walls would become too full! Because I have the painting bug and I have so many ideas to paint, I produce between 150 and 200 pictures a year. So you see my walls would soon groan under the sheer weight of paintings!
Do you have a favourite painting?
I am often asked this question and my answer is given in two parts. Firstly I say that the next picture I am about to paint will be my best and therefore my favourite. It is this quest to paint and produce good pictures that inspires me. Secondly I firmly believe that if the day came when I was completely satisfied with a painting, then my task would be complete and I would not have to continue painting. Hopefully that day will never come and I shall continue my painting efforts giving myself and hopefully sharing with others my passion for the natural world through my pictures.